Chillingo: “Complex” free-to-play market scares a lot of indies

By Dave Cook
2 January 2013 11:08 GMT

Chillingo COO Ed Rumley has told VG247 that the free-to-play market on mobile should be treated as a business model, rather than a genre – prompted by the rise of ‘Freemium’ titles in the space. Rumley has explained the concerns from indie studios surrounding emergent monetisation models in a new interview going live later this week. Get his quotes after the break.

In our interview, Rumley commented on the nature of free-to-play at present, “I think from a consumer’s perspective, there are obviously a lot of consumers who like free-to-play games, and there’s also a huge number who hate them. I think the confusion comes from most people talking about ‘Freemium’ and talk about it as a genre, rather than a business model.

“There’s obviously a lot of games where you’re grinding away, or building up a city or whatever it is. That’s a particular genre, and I think there’s a market for people who like those games, but there’s also a lot of people who still like pay-per-download games.

“From an indie developer’s perspective I think free-to-play games scares a lot of people because it’s a complex market, and I can imagine that developers put a lot of time and effort into their games, and that they’re very proud of their work, but it’s scary that they’re about to give this game away for free.

“Then there’s our perspective which is, we’re very comfortable with the free market, and we now earn more from free games than paid, but paid is still an important market for us. The way we look at this – the bottom line – is that consumers are king, so for us the consumer comes first, and we will always try to make games with developers something that consumers are happy with.”

To make matters more complicated for indies, placement on Apple’s App Store is key to strong sales and staying power – going hand in hand with monetisaton. Said placement and visibility is something Rumley feels comes and goes all too quickly.

“I mean look, brands win. Brands are everything, they’re very big, and that stand everywhere – whether its theatrical, magazines, books – you know, it’s just the way it is, but there’s always a challenge there.”

Rumley added, “I think if I asked you to name ten new games in the App Store charts at the moment you would probably struggle, but I bet you could name 30 games that constantly remain in the App Store charts. It’s very difficult to create a game that resonates with the mass market and stays there.

“We’ve got a lot of games like Catapult King which launched in June, and continues to float around the charts. I think you need to be smarter in the way you handle that now, and we’re getting more experience at Chillingo in how we do this.

“Our business model comes in many ways, so if a game launches as paid – perhaps if it’s appropriate at a later date in its life cycle – we can maybe then move to free, and we monetise that game via in-app commerce. But of course what we can do is go to other platforms, and this is where the benefit of being part of a larger organisation like EA comes into play.”

Stay tuned for our full interview tomorrow. If you’re a fan of the indie market you’ll want to check it out.

What’s your take on Freemium, F2P and other forms of in-app monetisation? Let us know below.

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